Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The French: Not Exactly What You'd Call "Goal Oriented"

Illustration for article titled The French: Not Exactly What You'd Call "Goal Oriented"

Les Bleus have pretty much proven at this point that they deserve their creepy, loser coach. Their lackadaisical 2-nothingness loss to Mexico Thursday was probably the worst French capitulation since the Germans outflanked the Maginot Line. And people were shocked.


As if Les Cockerels are known for being a scrappy team with a lot of heart.

Theoretically it should have never come down to grit. That's not a strategy the French, who by the way were one penalty shootout away from winning the last World Cup, ever plan on using. Judging from the overwhelming lack of anything resembling heart at all during the Mexico game, you can't be faulted for assuming that the team caught themselves in some sort of narcissistic, fevered-ego, self-perpetuating cycle of ennui. And it's not like we shouldn't have seen it coming.

First there was the change from a 4-3-2-1 system to a 4-3-3 only a few weeks before the start of the tournament. It was simply Raymond Domenech, a narcissist in his own right, succumbing under the weight of the players' collective vanity-driven demands. And it didn't work. During the pre-tournament friendlies they lost a match to China that, had they been the Japanese team, would have committed seppuku afterward to save face.

But instead of killing themselves in one single glorious and honorable instant, they pursued a slow death strategy of going into the World Cup with players in positions they weren't used to, hadn't played, were unsurprisingly bad at filling. And so they gave up. And so Mexico won.And so Nicolas Anelka, a schizophrenically enigmatic striker, cursed out Raymond Domenech during half time. Domenech, who once proposed to his hesitant- to-commit girlfriend on national television, demanded a public apology from Anelka. Anelka, an immature asshole who trotted around halfheartedly while playing Mexico like it was a pickup game, refused — and was promptly officially removed from the French team. Will it be good for the team to shake up personnel and get some fresh legs in? Will Anelka's dismissal further erode the morale of France? With the next round such a long shot at this point, maybe they should just all shrug their shoulders, light up Gauloises, and take solace in the ultimate meaninglessness of it all.